If you happen to be Rose Howard, life has some extra rules.
Like, no blurting out the prime numbers marching through your head.
And, no reminding your teacher or your dad or anyone that flea and flee are homonyms and your name Rose (rows) is, too (to, two) .
Also, it is not okay to shriek, “Stop!” to the bus driver unless it is a true emergency. Which, apparently, it is not an emergency if the driver in front of you does not use her directional before turning even though it is against the rules in the New York State driver’s manual.
It seems unfair that Rose’s extra rules are so sternly enforced, when other people break rules right and left. Life gets messy and frightening when people don’t follow the rules.
Rose’s mother didn’t follow the rules; she ran away when Rose was small. Rose’s father did not follow the rules when he found a dog out in a rain storm and gave her to Rose without checking to see if anyone had just lost a dog.
That dog, though, whom Rose names Rain (reign, rein) follows all the rules for being a Good Dog. She keeps Rose company during the long, lonely evenings while her father is at the bar, drinking. She welcomes Rose home from school and comforts her when she’s upset, resting her doggy head on Rose’s shoulder and breathing her doggy breath on Rose’s cheek.
So, when Rose’s father breaks the rules again, and lets Rain out during a hurricane without her collar, and Rain is lost — Rose is shattered. Her best friend is gone. Why did her father do that? Why did he break the rule? There is no answer from him. Just dark, scary anger.
Rose must use her own compulsive, systematic ways to put things right. Mercifully, Uncle Weldon is a steady source of help, as well as her teacher. But putting things right will be far more costly than Rose ever dreamed.
This touching new novel revolves around Rose Howard, a fifth-grader with high-functioning autism. Rose’s obsessions and idiosyncracies are challenging to be around, yet she is a stunning heroine, resilient, interesting, and courageous.
It’s an incredibly emotional novel, with deep seams of brokenness, neglect, abuse, and sorrow, as well as rich portraits of understanding, empathy, and love. Pain and loss mark Rose’s life like grafitti scrawled upon a fine painting. Her journey begins to lead toward healing; her life gains a comfort level she’s never known. But sensitive readers will realize that some wounds leave permanent scars.
Bottom line, this is an insightful story about belonging; of being in a place of home and among people who know and love you. So much strength stems from that. Rose is committed to bringing Rain back where she belongs, and as we accompany her, we all long for her to find such a haven, too.
But no kidding, there’s a lot of pain here, so you’ll have to judge if it’s a good fit for your child. I’d say, ages 1o or 11 and up. Adults — it’s for you, too.